Open House Melbourne
Get a stickybeak inside rarely accessible spaces during this big annual reveal.
MANY OF MELBOURNE’S bestkept secrets are in spaces that are off-limits to the public. But once a year Melburnians get to glimpse these spaces and learn their secrets. That time is Open House Melbourne, which first came to Melbourne in 2008. Many building tours are self-guided, but some require a guide for safety or space reasons. The program is free but bookings are essential at quite a few, so make sure that you check the website. Open House Melbourne will be running July 28-29, with 200 buildings to visit. Here are a few of our favourites.
Arts Centre Melbourne (Performing Arts Collection Store)
Melbourne’s performing arts hub offers backstage tours every Sunday, with access to the State Theatre, Fairfax Studio, Playhouse and Hamer Hall. On the tour you can see costumes, sets and props from current productions, visit the stars’ dressing rooms and even make your own stage debut. But the truly rare, hidden secret at Arts Centre Melbourne is the extensive Performing Arts Collection, and you can only see that during Open House Melbourne. The space is
deep inside Hamer Hall, behind a secret door, and it houses more than 610,000 items of performance art history: such treasures as Dame Nellie Melba’s costume wardrobe, Kylie Minogue’s costumes and red-carpet looks, and Barry Humphries’ Dame Edna archives. 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne 3004.
Built in 1863, Temperance Hall was the site of alcohol-free concerts, dances and lectures. The building was home to numerous organisations (the South Melbourne Football Club – now of course the Sydney Swans – was said to have been formed at a meeting at the hall in 1874) and is now home to Phillip Adams Balletlab. The hall was lovingly restored, but not renovated – much of it is in its original condition, cracks, faded paint and all. You feel the history of the space in every nook and cranny, from the beautiful main hall downstairs to the chief rulers’ office and the grand staircase. 199 Napier St, South Melbourne 3205.
St Vincent’s Hospital Tunnels
The 164-metre tunnel connecting St Vincent’s Public Hospital and the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital under Victoria Parade was opened in 1983 and designed to make it easier for patients and staff to travel between the hospitals. Lighting is entirely on the sides, so patients with eye difficulties being transported on their backs won’t be bothered by lights shining in their faces. The tunnel is also used to transport prisoners who are being treated at St Vincent’s, and it featured in the video clip for the Whitlams’ song ‘Fall for You’. In addition to the tunnel, St Vincent’s will be highlighting the 125th anniversary of the hospital with informative historical displays and photographs. 41 Victoria Pde, Fitzroy 3065. open House Melbourne openhousemelbourne.org/melbourne. Jul 28-29.